Woke up to another day of beautiful sunshine. We have only had as much rain in a little over 6 weeks as we usually get in a day at home. There is soooo much smoke in the air above us from the fires around here that rain would be very welcome.
Packed a lunch and headed north to find the Oregon Trail wagon ruts and Fort Laramie. The first place we stopped was the small town of Chugwater where we found 3 geocaches.
The wagon ruts (try saying that fast 3 times) preserved in limestone were very impressive and we found another geocache there. Places like this are spooky. It seems like you can hear the sounds of the wagons, animals and people while gazing at the trail they traveled.
A few miles down the road we visited a large sandstone cliff called Register Rock. This area was one of the major campgrounds for the emigrants headed west and thousands of pioneers camped here and inscribed their names upon the sandstone. We were appalled at the amount of graffiti that was done before Register Cliff came under protection as a historic site. The graffiti obliterated some of the names engraved during the 1800’s but we found a place that had been fenced off from the vandals and took pictures of some of the early names. One signature was made by 19 year-old Alvah Hunt Unthank who was headed for the goldfields of California. He carved his name into the sandstone in June 23, 1850 and a week later he died of cholera. Hardship and illness were inevitable along the trail. Of the approximate 55,000 emigrants who traveled these trails during the peak years, some 5,000 died enroute. Only 2% of the deaths are attributed to conflicts with the Indians. At one time a small trading post was located near the cliff, which became a Pony Express stop in 1861, and later a stage station. The people running the trading post blasted a deep hole in the cliff to use as a root cellar. The old Oregon Trail is visible a few yards below the cliff and the North Platte river flows nearby. As we headed out for Fort Laramie we found a very nice park in Guernsey and enjoyed our picnic lunch in the shade.
Fort Laramie was the principal military outpost on the Northern Plains. It was the primary hub for transportation and communication through the Rocky Mountain region. When the fort was abandoned in 1890 the buildings were sold to pioneers and served as homes and businesses. Because of this, much of the fort is much better preserved than it might have been. Some buildings have been restored to their 1860’s historic appearances including furnished rooms. The Post Trader’s Store and Enlisted Men and Civilians Bar were particularly interesting. Just before leaving we stopped in the bar and had a Sarsparilla. Dianne had never had Sarsparilla and didn’t know what it was but decided that it was just a fancy name for root beer. The temperature had risen to near 90 degrees and the nice cold root beer was very refreshing.
We found several more geocaches on our travels back down to Cheyenne. Amazing huge smoke cloud blowing over our campground totally obliterating the sun at times. Hope we leave all the fires behind in a few days as we travel northwest.
Oh! Forgot to mention that we learned during our tour of the Coors Brewery that they get the hops for their beer from Washington. We have seen them harvesting hops in the Prosser area. As we were driving from Denver to Cheyenne we passed one of the 12 Anheuser Busch breweries in the US. They also have 18 breweries in other countries.